It is almost difficult to put into words the last few weeks. This will no doubt be one of my longer entries. So much has happened!
Without boring you with a day by day travelogue let me just share some photos and memories.
To begin with my roommates Erika, Nicole and Kizzi were great. They welcomed me as their friend and were good about including me in activities. I can’t say how grateful I was for their kindness. Here we are looking quite pretty- if I don’t say so myself. That’s Nicole, me, Erika and Kizzi.
During the cruise we had 3 days at sea and 3 days at port. We visited Puerta Vaerta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. There were also 2 formal days on the boat including on my birthday! (How perfect is that!). The picture above is actually from formal day #2. My roommate Erika did my hair and Nicole had just about everyone we saw sing happy birthday to me. In fact, it was funny because the people in Cabo finding about my birthday kept offering me shots. I could have been quite hammered by the end of that day if I drank! It was a great birthday. I felt like a princess all day. I even had the boat guitarist serenade me with My Girl- all the other girls were jealous!
The most interesting thing about the cruise is that I met people I would never have otherwise. I was definitely the nerd of the ship. Its hard to explain but I learned to be a little bit less judgmental- a little more accepting of what I might call “high maintenance” characters. I had no one else to be friends with and was warmly accepted. I never want to be judgmental of anyone, and I feel that I am better person as a result of going on this cruise.
In addition, I had to be bold and introduce myself to new people every second- many times people I felt I had nothing in common with. I had to find the common ground and make friends. I also had to be comfortable in my own skin in a new way. This is something I feel very strongly about. Everyone should be able to spend time by themselves, pondering, and feel happy with just being alone. I read four books on the cruise alone and wrote in my journal every day. It was a great opportunity. Plus, it was a lot of fun. Here I am relaxing on the boat.
The ports were my favorite part by a long shot. In Puerta Vaerta all of my new friends went ziplining but I didn’t want to go, so I signed for an exclusive beach resort excursion. We went to this beautiful beach resort with the best pool I have ever seen. (Anyone who knows me understands how much I love pools). It was amazing. They had this taco bar that was delicious- as well as a buffet and a restaurant. The jacuzzi tub was also great. While soaking in the jacuzzi tub I started talking with some of the resort guests and believe it or not one of them knew my uncle Vernon and had actually seen him as their doctor. Small world!
Our second port was Mazatlan. This I also loved. It was cool because my friends ended up getting scooters, and I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I signed up for a trolley tour. On our second stop I ran into some other friends from the cruise ship who had rented a van. They had space, so I ended up going with them for the rest of the day. We went to another resort called El Cid that had an awesome beach. Below are pictures of the resort, beach and my friend Ashley who I hung out with in Mazatlan.
I unfortunately forgot my camera in Mazatlan so I am waiting to get more photos from friends. Isn’t that pretty though? Plus, I felt it was a blessing that I was led to people I could spend the day with. That was great.
The final day at port was Cabo and it was actually my least favorite. It was fun because it was my birthday, but I hated getting on the water taxis. They didn’t have a ladder, so I had to get practically shoved onto the front of the boat. I ended up getting my arm bruised from banging up against the boat. That was too bad and kind of embarrassing. Still, it was fun spending the day with Nicole and the Lover’s Beach was beautiful. Next time we will have to spend all of our time there. Here is lover’s beach. Someday I will have to go there with someone I love!
I just love the ocean so much. I have yet to go to a beach I haven’t loved. I hope someday I can live by the beach. It is a fantasy of mine. I love everything about it- the sound, the swimming, the sun, the feel of the sand. It’s just heaven.
I had a great time on the cruise; however, I don’t know if I will go on one again. The ports were great but the days at sea were a little bit more of a drag. Still fun, but not quite as much fun. A cruise feels like a casino/night club all the time, and if you don’t drink or gamble you are excluded from a lot of the supposed “fun”. I did get a manicure and pedicure one day and we went to karaoke 3 nights but that gets old after a while. I think I would rather just go down to one of the resorts with a group of friends. They were amazing and so reasonable. It would be fun for like spring break with friends. Anyone interested?
So in the end I loved the cruise. It was a great experience all around. I challenge any of you to challenge yourself. Try something new, make new friends, step out of your comfort zone, and I know you will find it to be as rewarding as I did. The other nice thing about the cruise is that for one week I was email/cell phone/tv and internet free. I am kind of an addict when it comes to these technologies and it was nice to know I did not need them. It was also nice to have a conversation with someone without hearing “oh sorry, I have to take this call…”. It was the first vacation I have taken in years without a computer and it was great. I am glad that I do not need those things to have a good time.
Once I finished the cruise I met up with my friend Raelene Bradley. I stayed with her family for 4 days and had a great time. I also got to see my former roommate Emily Alvillar Whitman and I meet her baby and husband (they are fantastic, such a great family). It was funny going from a huge group of singles, to hanging out with my married friends. It feels like a different world, but equally wonderful. Seeing both groups helped me remember that there are many ways to be a good Latterday Saint. It’s funny because the world would group us all as the same- all Mormons- but in reality we are very different and live a huge variety of lifestyles.
One of the highlights of visiting with Raelene was going to Hollywood and Santa Monica. I have never seen these sights and it was fun to finally do it. I know how hard it is to do stuff with a baby and I am grateful for Raelene and Jordan for taking the time to give me the tours. It was great spending time with Raelene. She is one of my favorite people. After spending a week with strangers it was nice to see people that I have a history with as well.
On Thursday I said goodbye to Raelene and family, and I thought I was going home; however, I wouldn’t have believed what was coming up! Because I was traveling on a free coupon I had gained from volunteering my seat last April in Hawaii (volunteering means you give up your seat on an overbooked flight in return for usually a free ticket). I volunteered twice last year and I do it whenever I can. Because I was using the free ticket I had to connect through San Francisco. Originally I was annoyed by this but it ended up being great. After arriving in San Francisco my flight to Utah announced they needed volunteers. I immediately offered to do it and it was accepted. I thought I would be going on the next flight at 7 pm (3 hours). I worked for most of the three hours but had a good time waiting. Then 7 pm came along and they asked for volunteers again! I asked if I could do it twice in one day and they said sure! I called Megan and she agreed to come pick me up, so I volunteered again- that’s 2 free plane tickets in about 3 hours! Not to shabby! It was very exciting. Plus, I got to spend the entire day with Megan, Seth and my adorable nieces. I was surprised how much fun I had in only a day visit. It made me want to come again for a long weekend or just a couple of days. In some ways a shorter trip is more fun because it is less pressure for all involved.
So, now I am home and back in my apartment. It really does feel like coming home. As much as I love vacationing (and am not looking forward to the stress of this week..) it is still great to be home and away from my suitcase. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel but I am also greatly blessed by wonderful friends who love and support me and a life that I love. Isn’t that great- I love my life. I love my family, my friends, my apartment, my job, my faith, and my whole life.